Gracenote buys Bulldog to take on video recognition

Media data specialist Gracenote has bought video content recognition startup Bulldog United to strengthen its own content recognition play, the company is set to announce Tuesday. Gracenote didn’t disclose any financial details of the deal, but CEO Stephen White told me during a phone call Monday that the acquisition was driven both by Bulldog’s technology as well as the desire to bring on Bulldog United CEO Don Gordon, who will be joining Gracenote as Vice President, Broadcast solutions. “The broadcasters have a really strong role to play” in taking TV to the next level, White said.
Content recognition is a key component in many second screen efforts: The technology helps apps on tablets or mobile phones to serve context-relevant content by telling them what’s going on on the TV set. Early content recognition efforts mostly used a tablet’s microphone to “listen in” on a viewer’s TV consumption and then identify programming based on audio fingerprinting. Gracenote has been using this approach as well, but White told me Tuesday that the direct engagement with broadcasters has made him realize that audio recognition isn’t always enough.
Instead, Gracenote now wants to offer a combination of audio and video content recognition. White said that consumers will see this come to their TV sets early next year. The company is also targeting set-top boxes, and has already been powering apps in the second screen space. “The beauty of our platform is that we can support all of those deployments,” said White.
Of course, Gracenote isn’t the only one trying to make a splash in the second-screen space. Tuesday morning, ConnecTV announced the launch of its second screen app in 40 local markets, targeting viewers of local broadcasters with companion content on their iPads. White acknowledged that there is lively competition going on in the space, but said that Gracenote supported the use of other recognition engines in its platform as well. It made perfect sense to use some of these technologies in concert and see them evolve into a common standard, he said. “We are seeing a real desire for standardization,” explained White.
Check out my earlier video of White demonstrating Gracenote’s audio content recognition: